President Donald Trump’s tortured relationship with the spoken word can lead to problems. Case in point, his remarks about Sweden at a rally in Melbourne, Florida on Saturday night. While Trump seemingly made a remark about a recent terrorist attack in Sweden, what he meant was the reported uptick in crime in migrant centers in the country. His remarks have ignited a firestorm online. I try to wade through it all to present to you what is exactly “going on in Sweden.”
If President Trump is right and there is a growing Islamic migrant caused crime wave in Sweden, the first step is to define when the surge in refugees from predominately Muslim countries started to spike in the country. Migrationsverket, the Swedish Migration Agency, has published country of origin data from 1980 to 2014 (pdf). This data does not include 2015, which saw the highest level of asylum seekers in the recent history of the nation.
Migrationsverket breaks out nine Muslim majority countries in their data set. Those countries are Kosovo, Somalia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, and Syria. It is clear that the Syrian civil war and ISIS has created a significant uptick in refugees from Syria, beginning in 2012. Prior to that year, immigration from that country was negligible. The second largest number of migrants come from the Horn of Africa with Eritrea and Somalia combining for close to 6,900 persons. The agency has not yet compiled country of origin for the roughly 160,000 asylum seekers that entered in 2015, but there are reports that have placed the Syrian number at over 50,000.
The recent surge in refugees caused Sweden, in the middle of 2016, to toughen its rules. The New York Times reported that Sweden took steps to curb the open door policy it had in place. The country was on pace to admit 200,000 refugees in 2016, or two percent of its population, the majority of whom were from Muslim majority countries.
Does this dramatic uptick in migrants starting in 2012 have anything to do with crime in Sweden? That’s where it gets complicated. As Politfact noted, Swedish authorities do not break out crime data by immigration or refugee status. So it is impossible to determine if any crime increase can be definitively linked to migrants.
What is apparent however, despite the media cherry-picking two years 2014 and 2015, is the significant increase in the number of reported sexual assault and homicides that have coincided with the increased numbers of migrants. According to the Brå, which reports Swedish crime statistics, reported sexual assaults have increased from 17,077 cases in 2011 to 18,057 in 2015. They peaked in 2014 at 20,326, which was 19 percent higher than in 2011. Preliminary data from 2016 show a reported 20 percent increase in sexual “molestation” from 2015, according to Brå numbers. Rapes increased by 13 percent from 2015 to 2016 according to the same preliminary report.
Similarly, according to Brå, lethal violence has shown an increase. Lethal violence is described as murder, manslaughter, or assault that results in death. In 2011 there were 81 instances of lethal violence reported; in 2015 there were 112 cases. This is an increase of 38 percent. From 2014 the increase was almost 29 percent. Lethal crimes data for 2016 will not be available until the end of March according to Brå.
The data does show an uptick in violent crime, particularly sexual assault and lethal crimes that coincides with the increased migrant wave. That fact is undeniable and buttressed by the data from Swedish authorities. The media, who have cherry-picked the drop in reported sexual assaults from 2014 to 2015, are misleading with their reporting. But there are also two critical pieces of data missing: 2016 assault numbers, and a breakdown of crime by immigration status. Without those data points, both sides of the argument have cases to be made.
There is certainly a significant amount of anecdotal evidence to buttress the claims of increased violence by migrants in Sweden. Most significantly is the documentary by Ami Horowitz which kicked off the current news cycle. Horowitz was interviewed by Tucker Carlson the day before President Trump made his statement.
Horowitz, with on-the-ground reporting, shows a very different picture than what the MSM or Swedish authorities want you to believe.
In Norway, a bordering Scandinavian country, the authorities recently produced a guide on how migrants should treat women. This was a direct result of a rise in rapes that accompanied a similar increase in migrants.
A spring 2016 Pew poll showed that a whopping 88 percent of Swedes disapprove of the way the European Union, of which Sweden is a member, is handling the refugee crisis. That is the second highest number after Greece, which has been a first port of entry for many migrants as they make their way through Europe. The next highest is 77 percent in Italy.
No matter where the debate here in America stands on the issue, it is clear the Swedish people are concerned about migration to their country. That is why, as previously mentioned, the government took extraordinary means to limit refugee settlement after a long history of virtually open borders. This action happened shortly after the Pew poll was conducted.
The data clearly show an uptick in sexual assaults, and lethal crimes since the massive increase in refugees to Sweden from majority Muslim countries. It is careful to remember that correlation does not always equal causation. Until Sweden publishes data which includes the immigration status and country of origin in their crime statistics, on-the-ground experience will continue to drive the narrative. Politifact and other “MSM fact checkers” owe it to their readers to paint a complete picture. (For more from the author of “What the Mainstream Media Won’t Tell You About Donald Trump and Crime in Sweden” please click HERE)